The Jelly Olympics

July 29th, 2011 § 2 comments

Yes, I shall make a wine jelly… In fact, a pinot noir jelly! Paired with duck. And something earthy and seasonal. Like beetroot. I mean, what would you do for your first ever live food demonstration at a wine festival? Absolutely nothing else came to mind. I love Pinot Noir. And duck. So look no further.

Ever made a wine jelly? Me neither. Even as a kid I didn’t like jelly. Compared to malva pudding it’s a sad excuse for a dessert. In fact, jelly was the reason I refused to eat trifle. But a wine jelly… now that I could consider. All my recipes called for pectin. But somehow pectin has fallen out of favour and is nowhere to be found. ‘Wat gebruik al die boervrouens deesdae?!,’ my inner voice squealed. Leaf gelatine was also not to be found in the village so I opted for the powdered variety. My first attempt (made with Noble Savage, a lovely affordable Cabernet Sauvignon) looked like chopped liver. I didn’t bother straining it as it was just an experiment. I then bought a little sachet of agar agar from the health store and made a sheet of jelly from Stark-Conde Pinot Noir – my wine of choice for the demo at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival. Agar agar is derived from seaweed and with a 50g sachet you could build a tornado-proof two-bedroom dwelling, seal the cracks in a family-sized swimming pool or stop the flow of the Orange river in flood. Plus it has a nasty aftertaste. I was luckier the third time around with a mixture of leaf gelatine (kindly donated by Richard Carstens of Tokara just up the road) and half a teaspoon of agar agar but the jelly was still too sour. The aim was to retain as much of the Pinot flavour as possible but nobody wants to eat sour jelly. Behold, the first three attempts:

 

Three bottles down and still no strike

From right to left: chopped liver, the Fountainhead of jellies made with agar agar and on the left, getting there with a mixture of leaf gelatine and a pinch of agar agar. But then a road trip to the Swartland lead me to the kind people of Fynbos Foods, where I managed to score 50g of pectin! Serendipity or what? As I sit here, a container with pinot jelly is setting in the fridge… or not. I’ve added more sugar and am quite frankly too tired to care. That’ll be tomorrow’s little drama. My demo at the Clover Kitchen at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival kicks off at 1. The audience will enjoy a glass of pinot with their portion of duck breast, beetroot relish and pinot noir jelly , courtesy of the kind people of Stark-Conde. It’s a food and wine pairing session after all.

On Tuesday night I subjected a few friends to a trial run. After a terrible day, Katie really took to the wine jelly. Especially the first one. I suspect a fuller bodied wine like a Cab makes for better jelly, although I hate admitting it now with so much vested in Pinot jelly. Or maybe she just needed the sugar.

 

Stress-fighting jelly for adults

 

The seasoned duck breasts were seared in a bit of duck fat (yip, left over from a previous duck-frying episode), left to rest, cut into thin slices and served on a bed of rocket with seared roma tomatoes. My beetroot relish was a hit but against Rose and Katie’s advice I’m going to simplify the recipe for the demo. Just par-boiled beets, shredded, with a bit of lemon juice, olive oil and horseradish. To me, horseradish personifies wintry earthiness and I just love it. Perfect with beets and duck, say I. Katie’s hubby lekker ou Jan joined us at shortish notice so I decided to make sweetpotato fingers as a filler. Tossed in the juice of two naartjies, salt, olive oil and baked.

 

The spread

The oven dish was too full to deliver golden sweetpotato fingers but they were tasty. And the crispy bits stuck to the bottom of the pan were OCD-inducing.

Dig it, sister!

The beautiful duck breasts are from Wild Peacock Food Emporium in Stellenbosch. I chose Stark-Conde’s Pinot Noir because at R95, it is my favourite Pinot under R100. I know, don’t add up all the botched jelly attempts… at a bottle a throw… eesh. But I’ll carry on more about why duck and why pinot at the show tomorrow. My trial run dinner was a success. Thank you, dear friends, for rocking up at short notice. And for the feedback.

 

Clean sweep

 

I’m going to hit the sack with fingers crossed that the pectin doesn’t let me down.

Yours in hit and miss food follies

Miss Kitchen Vixen

**Couldn’t resist, just peeked in the fridge and WE HAVE A WINNER!!! Jelly number four has set, is glossy and jiggles seductively. Where’s that left-over wine??

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